FAA's New 'Interagency Planning Office' Replaces JPDO

 - May 27, 2014, 4:18 PM
Former JPDO director Karlin Toner is now FAA director of global strategy. (Photo: Bill Carey)

The Federal Aviation Administration has created a new interagency office to coordinate federal investment in the ambitious NextGen ATC modernization effort following the elimination of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). Congress erased funding for the JPDO earlier this year, 10 years after it required the Department of Transportation to establish the office under the Vision 100-Century of Aviation legislation that launched NextGen.

In a statement provided to AIN, the FAA said it has established an “Interagency Planning Office” under the direction of Gisele Mohler and consisting of employees from the FAA and other federal agencies to replace the JPDO. The office “will plan, identify and prioritize key multi-agency research to drive consensus in the development of investment choices and decisions related to NextGen. Part of its mission is to improve efficiencies, reduce redundancy and ensure compatibility across federal agencies, while pooling resources and investments.”

Mohler was previously director of NextGen Performance and Outreach in the agency’s NextGen office. Karlin Toner, the former NASA executive who served as the JPDO’s director, is now FAA director of global strategy.

As envisioned by the Vision 100 reauthorization legislation that Congress passed in 2003, the FAA-led JPDO was to coordinate NextGen research activities by the private sector and federal agencies including NASA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the departments of Transportation, Defense, Commerce and Homeland Security. Following the lead of the House Appropriations Committee, Congress eliminated $12 million in funding for the JPDO in the Fiscal Year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act it passed in January.

In a report that accompanied the legislation, the House committee recommended that no further money be spent on the office. “The JPDO was established to develop a plan for NextGen in the 2025 timeframe and to coordinate federal research to modernize the nation’s air transport system,” the report said. “Regardless of various FAA reorganizations, FAA has failed to establish a clearly defined role for the JPDO and set expectations for how it will leverage research conducted at other federal agencies.” The committee said the agency's chief NextGen officer, a position established in the 2012 FAA reauthorization act, “should have responsibility for these interagency coordination activities.”

According to the FAA, the new Interagency Planning Office falls under the purview of Edward Bolton, the former U.S. Air Force general named last year as assistant administrator for NextGen. In the agency hierarchy, Bolton reports directly to Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker, who also serves as chief NextGen officer.